With the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overruling the 50 year precedent protecting our constitutional right to abortion, we are facing an extreme threat to abortion access, reproductive rights and other rights protected by the liberty interest of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Asian Pacific American Women Lawyers Alliance (APAWLA) is uniquely positioned to speak out on civil legal protections for pregnant people, women of color, and individuals seeking abortion and those providing that care. We call to action our members and the legal community to fight for a person’s freedom to make informed medical decisions about their pregnancy and to protect personal liberties from unwarranted government interference.
Since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, the Guttmacher Institute reports that over 100 abortion restrictions have been enacted. Last year alone, nearly 600 bills restricting abortion were introduced in 47 states. With the Dobbs decision, state legislatures will grow even bolder in eliminating access to abortion outright or in passing legislation that all but eliminates access. The impact of the Dobbs decision will be felt the most by communities of color, immigrants, young people, LGBTQ+ people and poor people who already experience marginalization and oppression by structural inequities and lack of abortion access.
At the same time we are seeing record numbers of bills pending in state legislatures targeting efforts to promote racial justice and the rights of transgender and nonbinary individuals, including bills to ban certain educational programming in schools and “Don’t Say Gay” bills. The attacks on reproductive freedom, racial justice and transgender rights are interrelated. The attacks all employ misinformation, prejudice and stigma to restrict bodily and mental autonomy and to control individuals’ decision-making about their own lives. Although Dobbs is about abortion rights, its rationale and interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment could be used to chip away at hard earned rights including the right to same-sex marriage and other personal liberty interests protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.
Abortion isn’t just a healthcare issue. It’s a racial justice issue. It’s an economic issue. And it’s a self-determination issue. In California, we know how to stand up for our rights. Here are some actions you can take now:
Spread the word — Abortion is legal in California and it will remain legal regardless of what the Supreme Court does. That’s good for our residents and those from other states who can come here to get the health care services they need.
State level – Ask your friends and family to call on members of the state legislature to support pending legislation that will, among other things, ensure access to and privacy around reproductive healthcare services, shield medical professionals from discipline and liability for performing abortions, and address inequities in reproductive and sexual health.
Federal level – Ask your friends and family to call on members of Congress. Tell your senators to pass reproductive rights legislation, including the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), to protect the right to abortion in federal law.
Support congressional candidates who support reproductive rights. Elections and legislative action at the state and federal levels are critical to our fundamental rights.
Support organizations doing critical work to help patients in states with laws restricting abortion care. There are many organizations doing critical work to help those who need assistance paying for or traveling out of state for abortion services. A few of the organizations doing this important work are:
NARAL Pro-Choice America - This organization holds rallys to educate the public on reproductive rights, and helps elect candidates who will champion reproductive freedom.
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) - This advocacy group filed an amicus brief in support of upholding Roe v. Wade in the Mississippi case before the Supreme Court.
Black Women for Wellness - Black Women for Wellness is committed to the health and well-being of Black women and girls through health education, empowerment and advocacy, including increasing accessible, appropriate and affordable health services that positively impact the health outcomes for Black women and girls.
California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ) - CLRJ uses a reproductive justice framework that emphasizes the intersection with other social, economic and community-based issues that promote the social justice and human rights of Latina/x women and girls and the Latinx community as a whole.
Planned Parenthood Action Fund - Planned Parenthood runs nationwide to provide resources and guidance on how to access reproductive health care services.
Join a peaceful protest. There will likely be many peaceful protests occurring on reproductive access. Make sure you stay safe while having your voice heard.
Now is the time to have our voices heard here at home and across the country as we fight to protect reproductive freedom and personal liberties for everyone.
The Asian Pacific American Women Lawyers Alliance (APAWLA) is a Los Angeles-based bar association that promotes the inclusion, empowerment and advancement of Asian American women in the legal profession through advocacy, mentoring, and educational programming.